No year passes without a scandal or two. In some years, they’re always almost countless.
The news space in this country is still looking forward to a time when all 365 days or 366 days will run out without the occurrence of what newsmakers and reporters term as a scandal.
Considering that most scandals in this part of the world are political in nature, it is fair to say as long as there is politics there will always be scandals. And once they break, the media spends a considerable amount of time on them to inform, education and dig till finality is brought to bear on the matters.
As the year sails to set, Edem Vine Tutu compiles a list and briefs of some of the most controversial scandals which topped the news in the year 2020:
1. GETFUND SCHOLARSHIP SCANDAL
In February 2020, some government appointees including ministers, former ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs) were named in a scandal involving the Ghana Education Trust Fund.
A performance audit conducted by the Auditor-General on the administration of scholarships by GETFUND revealed what he described as a breach of the Ghana Education Trust Fund Act, 2000 (ACT 581) by some state actors.
2. THE AIRBUS SCANDAL
It emerged in February that the European multinational aerospace corporation, Airbus, in a court suite pleaded guilty to paying bribes in some African countries in order to land contracts. A court in London found the company guilty and fined it to a tune of 3 billion pounds. Airbus reportedly bribed some personnel in the purchase of military transport aircraft under the erstwhile Mills-Mahama administrations.
The facts of the case are that between 2009 and 2015 Airbus engaged intermediary 5 whom they claimed was the relative of a high ranking government official. The government official who came to be known as government official 1 (GO1) was later said to be Ex- President John Dramani Mahama.
In November, a revelation by Ghana’s Special Prosecutor at the time, Martin Amidu, also confirmed John Mahama as GO1. No arrests or prosecutions have been made locally yet but the controversy rages on.
3. THE AGYAPA DEAL SCANDAL
In August 2020, the minority caucus in parliament walked out of parliament after the majority passed the Agyapa Royalties Agreement, popularly known as the ‘Agyapa deal’.
The deal which had the backing of the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018, Act 978, would see them manage the equity interests in mining companies and also receive royalties on behalf of Ghana and invest them for higher returns.
The minority raised concerns, arguing that the president and the ruling government planned to steal the country’s resources. Civil Society raised red flags and demanded the immediate suspension of the deal.
In November 2020, Special Prosecutor at the time Martin Amidu who elected to do a risk assessment of the deal, disclosed the deal was not transparent, was in breach of the laws of the country and stood a very high corruption risk.
The Special Prosecutor later resigned from office following what he cites as an interference in his work by the president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
4. KROLL AND ASSOCIATES SCANDAL
Attorney-General Daniel Domelevo in November 2019 surcharged the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo over some $1 million paid to UK auditing firm, Kroll and Associates.
The office of the Senior Minister on behalf of the government signed a deal with Kroll and Associates for a value-for-money audit of some government projects.
The Auditor-General after auditing the deal however discovered there was no proof of work done for which the firm was paid. He thus surcharged the Senior Minister and four officials of the Ministry of Finance GHC 5,510,353.73.
The Senior Minister dragged the Auditor General to the High Court which cleared the Senior of any wrongdoing.
This issue dragged into 2020 and would later rear its ugly head in other scandals, especially the one that has to do with the President’s directive for the Auditor-General to go on an accumulated leave.
5. PPA SCANDAL – CONTRACT FOR SALE
In August 2019, award winning journalist Manasseh Awuni Azure in an exposé titled “Contracts for Sale” uncovered mass corruption at the Public Procurement Authority, showing that the PPA boss, Agyenim Boateng, had awarded numerous government contracts to his company Talent Discovery Limited and in turn sold those contracts to persons willing to buy them.
Manasseh Azure formally petitioned CHRAJ to investigate the issue while the Office of the Special Prosecutor also commenced investigations into the matter. Mr Agyenim Boateng was suspended, while investigations were ongoing but was eventually sacked when CHRAJ concluded its investigations indicting him.
6. THE MISSING EXCAVATORS SCANDALS
From 2018 to 2019, excavators that were seized by the special taskforce, Operation Vanguard, in the fight against galamsey were reported missing.
Subsequently, tongues went wagging as the missing excavators became a topical for discussion. Fast foward in 2020, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) arrested six individuals in connection with the missing excavators. A supposed video of some top party officials of the ruling NPP seemed to suggest that some of its members had a hand in the missing excavators. Finality is yet to be brought to that matter.
7. THE CONTROVESIAL ACCUMULATED LEAVE OF THE AUDITOR – GENERAL
In June 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a release ordered the Auditor- General Daniel Domelevo to proceed on leave. Some civil society groups led by the board chair of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Linda Ofori-Kwafo appealed to the president to rescind his decision but the president wouldn’t budge.
The directive which came just months after the Auditor-General had surcharge the Senior Minister in the $1 million Kroll and Associates case complicated the matters. Many argued that the directive was a dent in the presidents fight against corruption. Then followed the auditing of the Auditor-General while he was on his accumulated leave. The drama is this scandal continues unending.
8. SPECIAL PROSECUTOR’S RESIGNATION
On November 16, then Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu in a press release announced his resignation from office citing interference from the presidency in his work, especially regarding his risk assessment report on the Agyapa Royalties Agreement. The report had fingered the President, the Finance Minister and his deputy and some other government officials and private persons. According to Mr. Amidu his life had also come under threat following the release of the report. What followed the resignation of the Special Prosecutor was what can be described as a war of epistles between himself and the presidency.
9. THE NEW VOTERS REGISTER SCANDAL
Ahead of the 2020 general election, the Electoral Commission of Ghana undertook to procure new equipment and a new data centre and use same to compile a completely new voters register. While the opposition parties challenged the need for the Electoral Commission to compile a new voters register, civil society led by IMANI challenge the need, the cost involved as well as the technology the EC intended to deploy. It was a marathon of protest and advocacy to have the idea botched but it all failed. The NDC went to court on the new register but lost.
10. AKUFO-ADDO’S $ 40K BRIBERY ALLEGATION
With just days to the 2020 election, a video emerged, first on social media and later on mainstream media, alleging that President Akufo-Addo took a $40K bribe to keep a Mahama appointee in office. According to the NDC, the video was taken when Akufo-Addo became president, but the government dismissed the claims explaining the donor had come to support Akufo-Addo’s 2016 campaign with branded party T-Shirts.
The video sparked conversations amongst Ghanaians. Television stations which earlier aired the videos later apologized to the president